Ohio Renews Medicaid Coverage for More Than 130,000 Dropped Residents
Responding to a federal mandate, Ohio is temporarily renewing Medicaid coverage for more than 130,000 people who may have incorrectly lost coverage when their welfare benefits ended, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Those who may have lost coverage received letters from the state alerting them to the benefit, which will extend through March 2001. The state also is "encouraging" people to apply for coverage beyond the three-month period and is offering to pay existing medical bills that should have been covered under the program. "Some people who walked away from cash assistance may have not called their caseworkers [about Medicaid] because they thought all their benefits were gone," Jon Allen, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said. Ohio law requires counties to cancel Medicaid coverage when beneficiaries fail to show up for reassessment appointments for welfare-related programs. The Plain Dealer reports that of those eligible for the benefits, about 20% have declined coverage, moved out of state or could not be found. According to the Plain Dealer, children are eligible for Medicaid if their family's income does not exceed $34,100 per year for a family of four. Parents are eligible for coverage if their annual household does not exceed the federal poverty level: $17,050 per year for a family of four (Exner, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/28).
In other Ohio Medicaid news, some state officials are considering cutting payments to nursing homes as a means to free more Medicaid funding for other areas, such as prescription drugs. Nursing homes receive $2.5 billion annually from Medicaid, and Ohio's Medicaid payments to nursing homes increased last year, averaging $47,000 per bed. Many of Ohio's seniors, however, are opting to live at home rather than move into nursing facilities; more than one out of 10 beds in the state's 980 nursing homes went vacant on any given last year, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer review of state records (Associated Press, 12/26).